Nolte: Chuck Todd Spoke More Words at Debate than 7 Democrat Candidates

Moderators Chuck Todd (L) speaks to audience during a technical problem alongside Rachel Maddow as they host the first night of the Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, on June 26, 2019. (Photo by JIM WATSON …
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd managed to speak more words during Wednesday night’s Democrat debate than seven of the actual candidates.

What makes this feat even more impressive is that while all ten candidates were on the stage for the full two hours, Todd managed to top seven of them during his single hour of moderating.

FiveThirtyEight, who originally did the word count, adds that Todd’s 1633 word count is only four fewer words than that of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA):

What’s more, Todd blew away his moderation competition. His co-moderator for the hour, MSNBC’s chief Russia Collusion Hoaxstress, Rachel Maddow, came in ninth and only topped three candidates with 1163 words.

NBC News anchor Lester Holt topped only two candidates with 1001 words. Today Show co-hostess Savannah Guthrie and Jose Diaz-Balart topped no one with 748 and 377 words, respectively.

Here is the breakdown:

  1. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): 2181 words
  2. Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke came in second with 1932
  3. Warren: 1637
  4. Todd: 1633
  5. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): 1614
  6. Rep. Julian Castro (D-TX): 1588
  7. Tim Ryan: 1383
  8. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI): 1243
  9. Maddow: 1163
  10. John Delaney: 1060
  11. Holt: 1001
  12. Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NY): 881
  13. Jay Inslee: 875
  14. Guthrie: 748
  15. Diaz-Balart: 377

In Todd’s defense, due to NBC’s amateurish technical problems, he did have to repeat a question three times.

On the other hand, it’s an awfully long-winded question:

And to begin with, we’re going to go with guns, and, Sen. Warren, I want to start with you. We are less than 50 miles from Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a school shooting last year and where there has been significant activism on gun violence ever since. Many of you are calling for a restoration of an assault weapons ban, but even if implemented, there will still be hundreds of millions of guns in this country. Should there be a role for the federal government?

After a few seconds of technical problems, Todd then did this:

So the question is simply this. We’re from — I apologize you guys didn’t get to hear this, the first part of the question. Obviously, we’re not far from Parkland, Florida. Gun activism has become a big part of high school life up there in Broward County.

Many of you are calling for tighter gun restrictions. Some of you are calling for the restoration of the assault weapons ban. But even if it’s put in place, there are still going to be perhaps hundreds of millions of guns still on the streets. Is there a role for the federal government in order to — to play — in order to get these guns off the streets?

And then there was this:

Sen. Warren, we’re going to get to the gun question here. In Parkland, Florida, it’s just north of here in Broward County. As you know, it has created a lot of teenage activism on the gun issue. It has inspired a lot of you to come out with more robust plans to deal with guns, including assault weapons ban, but even if you’re able to implement that, what do you do about the hundreds of millions of guns already out there? And does the federal government have to play a role in dealing with it?

What was the point of Todd throwing in all of this?

“We are less than 50 miles from Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a school shooting last year and where there has been significant activism on gun violence ever since.”

“Obviously, we’re not far from Parkland, Florida.”

“In Parkland, Florida, it’s just north of here in Broward County.”

“According to Mapquest, we are just 48.1 miles from Parkland, which means that, depending on which of the three routes you choose, we are either 71 minutes away, 66 minutes away, or 74 minutes. Of course, that’s right now. Were we to leave immediately after the debate, there is expected to be a slowdown due to overnight construct– oh, wait, there’s been an accident, so we are now talking about  at least 84 minutes…”

Okay, I made that last one up, but what does this approximation have to do with anything?

And then there was this long-wind-o-rama that was a political rather than policy question:

Congressman O’Rourke, you’re a Texan who’s campaigned — you campaigned all over the state in 2018 in the most conservative parts there. What do you tell a gun owner who may agree with you on everything else, okay, but says, “You know what? The Democrats, if I vote for them in there, they’re going to take my gun away, and even though I agree with you on all these other issues…” How do you have that conversation?

And this filibuster:

Sen. Warren — I’m going to get you — I will get you 30 seconds, I promise. Let me get — let me get this question. We’re trying. I know you guys — we’ve got other issues we’re trying to get to, including a big one coming up in a minute. But Sen. Warren, I want to continue on the Mitch McConnell thing because you have a lot of ambitious plans.

You have a plan for that. Okay. We talked about the Supreme Court. Do you have a plan to deal with Mitch McConnell if you don’t beat him in the Senate, if he’s still sitting there as the Senate majority leader? It’s very plausible you’ll be elected president with a Republican Senate. Do you have a plan to deal with Mitch McConnell?

Are two paragraphs really required to ask how she will move her plans through a Republican-controlled Senate?

And here is another two-hander that, again, has nothing to do with policy and everything to do with politics:

Congressman O’Rourke, you also put out a big climate change plan from your campaign. You want some big changes in a pretty short period of time, including switching to renewable energy, pushing to replace gas-powered cars in favor of electric ones.

What’s your message to a voter who supports the overall goal of what you’re trying to do but suddenly feels as if government’s telling them how to live and ordering them how to live? What is that balance like?

And this question, which is more like 14 questions:

Thirty seconds, Secretary Castro, does — who pays for the mitigation to — to climate, whether it’s building sea walls for people that are perhaps living in places that they shouldn’t be living? Is this a federal government issue that needs to do that? Do they have to move these people? What do you do about that, where maybe they’re building a place someplace that isn’t safe? Who pays to build that house? And how much should the government be bailing them out?

And this:

All right. Congressman Ryan, I got a full question for you here, which is simply this: There are — a lot of the climate plans include pricing carbon, taxing carbon in some way. This type of proposal has been tried in a few places, whether it’s Washington State, where voters voted it down. You’ve had the Yellow Vest Movement. We had in Australia one party get rejected out of fear of the cost of climate change sort of being put on the backs of the consumer. If pricing carbon is just politically impossible, how do we pay for climate mitigation?

With ten presidential candidates and only two hours, a little less wind up before the pitch seems like a good idea.

Slate declared Todd the night’s loser.

“The Meet the Press anchor was the clear loser of the first of the two debates this week, which is a bit of a shame, because he was so evidently excited to be there,” Slate writes. “But excitement can easily transmute into disorder, and a stumbly, fumbly question-asker does a disservice to both the viewers at home and the candidates on stage.”

Todd will enjoy a redo Thursday night with the remaining ten Democrat candidates, which will include frontrunners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

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